PoG: Rutgers

John Flowers

West Virginia got great frontcourt production from John Flowers and Kevin Jones, but by the narrowest of margins the senior forward is our pick for the player of the game in WVU's 65-54 win over Rutgers.

Flowers doesn't have to score a ton for the Mountaineers to be successful, but when he does West Virginia is very difficult to defeat. Points, in addition to his usual rebounding and defensive contributions, round out his stat line and give WVU a much-needed boost in the scoring column. In recording a double-double of 14 points and ten rebounds, Flowers guaranteed at least a .500 finish in the conference for his team, and removed any lingering doubts about an NCAA tournament berth.

Flowers was 5-10 from the field, and each of his shots were good ones that came within the framework of the offense. He made one of his three 3-point attempts, and also converted all three of his free throw attempts. Those numbers weren't the most impressive of his line, however. He grabbed six offensive rebounds, including a pair that contributed to a possession of 1:19 that culminated in a Casey Mitchell three. That score put WVU up by eight points at the 6:45 mark and gave it enough breathing room to hold on for the win.

"John did a tremendous job on the offensive glass," head coach Bob Huggins noted afterward. "He got us an extra five or six possessions."

With West Virginia shooting below 40% from the field, those extra chances played a big part in the outcome.

Flowers was not credited with a block, although he clearly had one in the second half, and avoided foul trouble, staying on the floor for 38 minutes.


NET BURNERS

  • Kevin Jones could have easily garnered player of the game honors, as he recorded a double-double of his own. His 12 points and 11 rebounds nicely complemented Flowers' numbers and helped him bounce back from the poor shooting night he suffered on Thursday.

    Jones' strength comes through his versatility and he displayed that against the Scarlet Knights. He scored from the 3-point line to the post, and didn't force any shots despite his eagerness to help the Mountaineers in the scoring column. In the face of some perhaps unrealistic expectations coming into the year, Jones has battled hard to break out, and those efforts were rewarded in this game.

  • WVU's response to a Rutgers run in the second half was an encouraging sign for a team that has struggled to score this year. Whether or not that can become a trend for the closing stretch of the season remains to be seen, but the Mountaineers at least know they have it in them.

    In the second half, the Mountaineers held a 39-35 lead when the Scarlet Knights scored seven consecutive points to reclaim the advantage at 42-39. For a team that has not been able to manufacture runs, WVU looked to be in a tight spot. However, this time, it immediately responded with an 11-0 spurt of its own to retake the lead at 50-42. Casey Mitchell scored all eight of his points in that stretch.

  • The Mountaineers have seen different players light up the scoreboard at times this year, but balance in the scoring column is usually a better indicator of success in the won-loss column. In addition to Flowers' and Jones' totals, Truck Bryant scored 15 (11 in the first half), Mitchell tossed in eight, Mazzulla had seven (to accompany nine assists) and Kilicli had five.

    Of course, this doesn't provide an indication that WVU is suddenly going to cruise past the 70-point mark in its remaining games. This team just doesn't have the scoring punch to allow that. But if everyone up and down the lineup can pitch in, scores in the mid-60s aren't out of the question -- and that's enough to win more games, especially in the Big East and NCAA tournaments.

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